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    There is “panic fear” at former giant Schalke


    Former boss Tönnies is back again
    There is “panic fear” at former giant Schalke

    His brother was elected president 30 years ago, and now the long-time supervisory board chairman Clemens Tönnies at Schalke 04 is being discussed again in connection with an opposition. Even if he is still holding back, the club is threatened with a power struggle at an inopportune time.

    He resigned almost four years ago due to massive public pressure, and now there is heated discussion about Clemens Tönnies again at the deeply fallen FC Schalke 04 – 30 years after his family joined the traditional club. Royal Blue was threatened with bankruptcy when his older brother Bernd was elected president on February 7, 1994. The situation is currently similarly precarious: the heavily indebted club might not survive relegation to the third division.

    And then the billionaire from Rheda-Wiedenbrück reappears – as the driving force of an opposition group that has been harshly criticizing the current Schalke leadership, supported by the media outlet “Bild”, for weeks. Tönnies himself stated on Tuesday that he was “not aware of any so-called opposition group.” Nevertheless, he indicated to the Funke media group that if the club management was replaced, “I would use my network to find a good team that could help.”

    In the fall, Tönnies accused his successor Axel Hefer as chairman of the supervisory board and the board of mismanagement: “It almost seems as if they are deliberately trying to push the club over the cliff.” Now he added: “The committees and offices must be filled with experts from business and sport with a broad network. Things cannot continue like this.” Things have “never been so bad for our Schalke”.

    Neururer: “This would never have happened with Tönnies”

    Tönnies, the strong man at Schalke from 2001 to 2020, belongs to the group of the five most important sponsors as well as some “formers” who are massively attacking Hefer and Co. In response, the new CEO Matthias Tillmann invited all members to a hybrid discussion on February 21st on Tuesday. “This is not an opposition,” emphasized former coach Peter Neururer, who himself took part in the meetings, “these are all Schalke players who have an obligation to think along and help out.”

    The points of criticism: The club's management has “never been involved in professional football” and is making “one mistake after another – that triggers panic in the club.” The second division team, put together with the goal of promotion, could “never be promoted even by a magician, i.e. me,” said Neururer. It is clear “that things cannot continue like this.” At the beginning of March, the sponsor group around the long-time club patriarch is scheduled to meet again with the club management in order to “come to a common denominator”. With Tönnies, Neururer believes, Schalke “would never have gotten into this situation.”

    The meat manufacturer resigned under pressure from numerous fans in the summer of 2020 after racist comments and a corona outbreak in his slaughterhouse. Quite a few fans now want him to return. Tönnies became a member of the newly created Schalke supervisory board in 1994 after his brother Bernd died after just 145 days as president. On his deathbed, he promised him that he would “take care of Schalke,” he later said.

    Tönnies is still ruling out a return

    At that time the club had debts of 14.6 million marks, last year it was 165 million euros. But Tönnies also made a mistake with Christian Heidel as sports director, who initiated the decline with expensive, bad purchases and left more than 200 million euros in liabilities. This enormously restricted the scope of his successors, which accelerated the fall.

    Now he and the other major sponsors are putting Hefer, once one of his biggest critics, under pressure. The current boss is accused of being too close to the Ultras, incorrect composition of the board and inadequate search for sponsors – and also rejected considerations of selling marketing and catering rights.

    So far, Tönnies himself has ruled out a return – and it should stay that way. “I myself will no longer hold an official position at Schalke,” he said on Tuesday: “The time at Schalke was the best of my life. But 26 years are enough.”

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